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Farewell, Ham Tan Arty by Gerald Herter is a Salute Military Event pick #military #memoir #vietnam

Title: Farewell, Ham Tan Arty

Author: Gerald Herter

Genre: Military Memoir

Book Blurb:

Experience firsthand as an artilleryman maneuvers the complexities of the Vietnam war.

Today’s college senior may face the daunting challenges of mountainous student debt and questionable job prospects, but not the horrific predicament a male student of the 1960’s confronted with the military draft and imminent deployment to fight a deadly and thankless war in Vietnam. FAREWELL, HAM TAN ARTY, An Artilleryman’s Journal during the Vietnam War Drawdown, follows as a student contemplates the options: flee to Canada, seek special favors to avoid serving, or answer his country’s call.

Much has been written of battles, heroic actions, and fatal political blunders. But what about the average young person pursuing the daily tasks of life

· amidst a campus torn by anti-war protests,

· through dehumanizing training in the sweltering heat of a Georgia summer,

· playing at war in the former Nazi camps of Germany,

· then finally on the ground in Vietnam,

hoping to survive while carrying out orders from distant generals, and calming the fears of loved ones back home.

An artillery officer’s experiences, advancing from fire bases to province headquarters, speak out from a dust-stained journal, next to letters home nuanced to soften depictions of the dangers of the war zone that lay hidden between the lines. Transcend the sensationalism of war to contemplate how relationships were maintained with loved ones so far away, and the importance of those connections for boosting morale and fostering hope for the future. Whether through letters written, “Care” packages received, or a remote MARS radiophone call to a mother on Christmas Eve from deep within the distant combat zone of Vietnam, the feelings expressed melt away the miles, at least for a moment.

Join with the soldier as his lifechanging decisions come to life on the pages of his journal.


“The award of the Silver Star was given posthumously to Private First Class Gerald W. Palmer, son of Mrs. Della Palmer, S. Julian Street, for his heroic action on February 12, the day of his death.”

So began an all too common report in an early 1945 edition of a Chicago area newspaper. PFC Palmer died fighting in the World War II Battle of Manila just months after General MacArthur had famously returned to the Philippines, and just days before US troops took Iwo Jima.

When I was born on June 20, 1945, my parents named me after Palmer, a family friend. Within three decades, I would be called to serve like Palmer during wartime. Unlike the noble cause of World War II fought by Palmer’s Greatest Generation, the motivation for the Vietnam War came under question early on and tainted the country’s hard-earned reputation.

The newspaper report went on:

“The medal was presented to Jerry’s widow, Mrs. Marion Palmer of Chicago, last week.

Jerry’s mother also received a copy of the Silver Star citation which read: “For gallantry in action in the city of ---------- [Manila] on 12 February 1945, Private Palmer was returning to our lines with his squad, after successfully clearing a group of buildings of enemy snipers, when his squad came under a hail of enemy machine gun and 40 mm. fire, wounding the squad leader. Quickly assuming command of the squad, he ordered the rest of the men under cover, and though himself exposed to enemy fire, carried the wounded squad leader to safety. With complete disregard for the intense enemy fire directed toward his position, Private Palmer again moved forward in an effort to locate the enemy position. Completing his reconnaissance, he was returning to our lines when he was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper. Private Palmer’s courageous actions and aggressive leadership at the extreme sacrifice of his own life enabled him to save the life of a comrade and reduced further casualties in his squad.

A letter from Jerry’s commander assured Mrs. Palmer that her son did not suffer any pain, but was given immediate medical attention, and rushed to an Army hospital where he died several hours later.

Pfc. Palmer entered the service of his country in November of 1942, and served overseas for the past two years in Australia, New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, and the Philippines.

Along with the Silver Star, Pfc. Palmer was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.”

While I could never hope to be the kind of hero that Palmer became, I liked to feel that at least a little of his sense of duty and love for country had rubbed off on me. When I entered college in 1963, life was good. Sure there was the draft that all young men had to face at the time, but actually going to war was not even on anyone’s radar. However, by the time I graduated, the prospect of being thrust into the war in Vietnam loomed large. Before long, there I was, a soldier trained to fight the enemy in a foreign land.

During my time in Vietnam, a reality of war different from that portrayed on the evening news emerged. From the brief snippets of video and related commentary, battles and fighting were assumed to go on 24 hours a day on every square inch of land. As I found out, the fighting actually took place for relatively brief periods on small pockets of land, while life went on pretty much as usual in the rest of the territory during long, boring stretches of inaction. The problem was that when and where those episodes of war would take place were typically unknown until they happened, and then caused surprise and chaos. The long hours of waiting were often worse, worrying about what might happen. When the time came, there was no time to worry.

As the days passed, I tried to make sense of it all, writing in my journal of what took place and how I felt. Letters home did the same, only in a more nuanced manner, trying not to cause more alarm than already weighed on my parents’ minds. I believed at the time that America’s cause was noble, protecting the World from falling to communism through the “domino theory,” whereby the countries of Asia would succumb one by one. Only many years later would my beliefs change.

But first, as my life began to emerge and grow in the years immediately following World War II, the prospects of someday becoming a leader of men in combat seemed the unlikeliest of outcomes.

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What makes your featured book a must-read?

It is a day-by-day firsthand account.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs May 23 – May 31, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on June 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

Gerald Herter grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, served in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer in Germany and Viet Nam, and worked as a CPA for several years in Chicago. He married his wife, Lori, and they moved to Southern California a few decades ago. There he served as Managing Partner of an accounting firm for many years, as well as the President of the Americas, Asia & Australia Region of Integra International, a world-wide association of accounting firms.

Gerald currently writes and edits Integra’s Audit & Accounting Alert newsletter, and was a Contributing Editor for Accounting Technology magazine. He also coordinates the accounting firm’s annual team-building hiking adventure to places of scenic beauty and physical challenge in the American West.

Gerald and Lori still live in Southern California with their cat, Marigold. They have traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti. Gerald has had travel articles published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Celtic Life International magazine. He became fascinated with the Celtic world in recent years from numerous trips with Lori researching people and places for the novels she writes. Lori's novel set in Ireland, The Thin Place, can be found with her other novels at:

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1 comentario

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
29 may 2023

Thank you, Gerald, for sharing your book in our Salute Military Bookish Event!

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